The Coso Junction Warmup (sanctioned under the name Death Valley Warmup) was the first ride of the 2010 season, at least within any reasonable commute of the bay area. It was also my last chance to get Keen qualified for the FEI1* in January. Unfortunately, Keen was still slightly lame prior to the ride, so once again Escapade needed to step in and take her place. (I can only imagine the conversation that Escapade is going to have with Keen when she returns: “Hey you lazy mare, you stop faking this front foot lameness or I’m gonna *kick* your butt. I am tired of these ridiculous multi-day rides!”)
Of course in some ways, it made it easier on me, because now I was only planning to bring one horse, instead of two. Even if Keen had been OK for a 50 miler, I would not have done two days of 50s with her recent issues. So now it was just Escapade and me. No worries about a horse left in camp while I was off riding, and I only needed to haul water for one, and pick manure for one – a lot less work.
I like to head out in the early morning for long drives. This one was around 375 miles, so I headed out at 4:00am. While that meant I didn’t have any traffic to deal with headed out of the bay area, it also meant that I would be driving Pacheo pass in the dark. Thankfully there were no accidents going in the eastbound direction. Unfortunately there was a nasty looking multicar pileup going the other way. I must have driven by just after it occurred because there was steam or smoke still coming from at least one of the cars and there were no emergency vehicles on the scene. I kept thinking, “Please let no one be badly hurt,” as I drove on, shaken.
Once I reached I-5 the driving became very straightforward and flat. I turned on some music and watched the miles roll by. I knew where I planning to stop for breakfast, a McDonalds in Coalinga. In an unusual bit of advance planning I had located the McDonalds along my route, picked one at a good distance for breakfast (~140 miles) and looked at the aerial satellite imagery to make sure there would be a place to park the rig. Amazing! Actually, it worked really well, so perhaps I will try to remember to do that again for other trips. J
There was diesel at a Mobil station across the way from the McDonalds, so I thought I would fuel up there even though I wasn’t low. Unfortunately it had the SLOWEST pump I’ve ever dealt with – less than 1 gallon per minute! I decided to hang out there for a while so I could eat some of my breakfast while not driving, but I still only got around 8 gallons before my patience (and my egg & cheese biscuit) ran out. The sun had risen during my stop, so between that and the latte, I hit the road again considerably more awake.